Saint David’s Day – Dydd Gwyl Dewi Sant

Today, March 1st is St David’s Day and a very important day in Wales.

Saint David is thought to have been born around 500 AD in Pembrokeshire on the Welsh west coast. David’s reputed mother Non was also a saint, and he was trained as a priest under the tutelage of St Paulinus.

Various miracles are attributed to him, including restoring the sight of his teacher and, most famously, creating an entirely new hill (now the village of Llanddewi Brefi) during an outdoor sermon. The version of this story which we were told in school was that he was preaching to a large crowd, many of whom couldn’t see or hear him properly. A man stepped forward and put his coat on the floor for David to stand on. When he stood on the coat the ground rose up and a small hill was formed.

St David

Saint David became a renowned missionary in Wales and beyond, and is credited with founding monasteries in his homeland, the south-west of England (including Glastonbury) and Brittany.

When I was in Primary School I remember that our village always held a St David’s Day concert. Our little school was used as a village hall for this sort of event. Various people – adults and children – throughout the evening would take turns to sing, recite or play the piano. One local farmer had a beautiful tenor voice and always sang ‘Jerusalem’. There would also be singing where we all sang together, many of the songs in Welsh.

The traditional dish which all families would eat on that day was ‘cawl’ – pronounced cowl – which is a simple but hearty and nutritious stew made with lamb, root vegetables and leeks. Oddly, it’s the smell of it cooking in our kitchen which I can remember more than the taste.

Our version of the traditional spiced fruit loaf is know as Bara Brith which means speckled bread. It is eaten sliced, buttered and with a paned (cup of tea).

When I was in the Secondary School there was always a St David’s Day Eisteddfod in the school hall. Pupils who were known to be able to play and instrument were often pressured into taking part. Others were happy to volunteer. Most children would have a daffodil pinned to their jumpers. Those who hadn’t been able to locate a daffodil would have a leek pinned to them instead, some of them enormous! I can clearly remember the all-pervading smell of leeks as some of the kids got bored in the audience and started nibbling on them.

Cawl.
Welsh cakes are very popular in Wales and are sold in most bakeries and cafes. Cooked on a bakestone or a griddle pan, they are eaten all year round but especially on St David’s Day.

I have lived in England now since 1973. I have worn a daffodil on March 1st every year of my life as I am doing today. Occasionally if I’ve been in my local town shopping on St David’s Day (not this year, thanks to COVID-19) and seen another person wearing a daff we greet each other and have a little chat.

Happy St David’s Day to you all!!

Dydd Gwyl Dewi Hapus!!

As usual – images courtesy of Google Images, Pinterest, Wikipedia. Anyone objecting to my use of an image can contact me and I will remove it.

Greeting Cards

It was my birthday last week and I was lucky enough to get a lot of lovely birthday cards. It got me thinking about how greetings cards have changed in my lifetime. They have changed not only in appearance but also in the range of events we can now send cards for and in the way we send them – there are many ways of sending cards electronically including e-cards and the ones which are ordered and designed electronically but send as paper cards in the post. I will explore all of this in this post.

First, here are some examples of the sort of cards which were around when I was a child. I don’t remember ever seeing ‘arty’ cards in the shops or even many funny ones. They were either pretty and floral like most of the ones shown or they were more manly and had cars, footballs or garden spades on them. Children’s cards might have images of children, toys,puppies, kittens or cartoons on them. They all had a certain look which was no doubt dictated by the processes available at the time. Photographic images were used more for picture postcards sent from holidays. Another difference I notice is that there was always a greeting printed on the front whereas now there is often no writing at all on the front, especially on the arty cards. One of the main differences, however, was inside. They always had verses in them.  You can still get cards with verses in them, and some people prefer them, but not every card has a verse. In fact, the ‘Blank for your own message’ style of card has become more common in the last few decades – something which was never, ever seen in the 1950s and 60s! Do any of you remember the dawn of the scented card in the 1950s? What a novelty! One of my grandmothers loved to send cards which had been carefully chosen for the verse and the scent. Fortunately, scented cards are no longer with us.

 

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Next, the range of occasions acknowledge with cards today. There were always wedding cards, get well cards, sympathy and congratulations cards and a few more. Also, the 21st birthday was a big milestone. Now we have cards for every decade and sometimes even for half decades like 65 and 75. Below is a selection of current cards – and if you wanted to send one to someone whose cat was going to have an operation, or a friend who’d been made redundant or whose relationship had just broken up, then you buy a ‘Blank for your own message’ card or one saying ‘Just to Say’ or ‘Thinking of You’.

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Then, we move on to the different ways we can send cards. The good old postal service is still the main one. But, as well as paper cards we now have e-cards. I subscribe to one and I really rate it. It’s jacquielawson.com and the art work is brilliant. There are many more websites doing them. I find it great if I want to send a fun card to the grandchildren as they are animated. Also, if I am away on holiday and it’s a friend’s birthday or some other occasion, I can log in and choose one and send it on my phone. Amazing, isn’t it? There are also companies like Moon Pig where you choose your card on a laptop or phone, using your own photographs if you like, add your message in a style of your choosing then the card is sent as a paper one through normal post. They are somewhere in between ‘normal’ cards and e-cards, a sort of hybrid.

Finally, here are some of the cards I received on my birthday, including a Welsh one. There is a Moon Pig one with a photograph of me on it which one of my daughters had made up for me. Also in there is a hand-made card from a friend who loves making her own cards – a style of card I nearly forgot to mention!

Cards 1    Cards 2

Cards 3

 

 

Advent Calendars

I was shopping the other day and I noticed a bewildering array of Advent calendars each one containing twenty-four treats. I thought I’d do a short post on how I’ve seen Advent calendars changing.

When I was a young child, back in the 1950s, we had an Advent calendar. We had the same one for years. It had windows with what we thought were delightful little pictures behind the little card doors. The biggest one, right in the centre, had a picture of baby Jesus in the manger and I remember the picture being coloured in a lovely yellowy glow. We knew what was coming on Christmas Eve when we opened that double door (the other days had single door flaps) but we never, ever peeped during the preceding days. Our calendar was about A4 size and was a picture of a church window. I remember a grey stone colour and other colours for the stained glass window. I have found some photos of the sort of calendar we had – which was the only kind around at that time. We loved it and getting it out on the first day of December was SO exciting!

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An assortment of 1950s Advent calendars which resemble our well-loved one at home.  

When my children were young, in the 1980s, I also had an Advent calendar for them which we got out each year. At some point in the 70s or 80s somebody had the idea of selling calendars with chocolates in which seemed all wrong to me at the time. It meant the anticipation felt by children in December became focused on the next day’s chocolate. Anyway, that’s just my personal feeling, many of you will disagree!

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The now standard chocolate Advent calendar.

 

What I wanted to cover in this post was the evolution of Advent calendars from simple card ones with pictures, to the chocolate ones, the ones with toys,  hand-made ones where parents put their own surprises in the pockets, through to calendars made for adults and containing beer, wine, toiletries, spirits, expensive food items etc etc. There are even Advent calendars for pets.

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Quality chocolates                    Tea

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An assortment of what’s on sale this year

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Whisky

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Advent calendars for dogs, cats, hamsters, gerbils and rabbits